Releaf Magazine

Former RI Gov. Lincoln Chafee Played Role In Pushing DEA

chafee-sail-smile2Linc Chafee pushed DEA to reconsider cannabis

RI Future - By. Bob Plain - 08/13/16

The federal government might be comfortable equating marijuana to heroin, crack and meth, but Rhode Island isn’t. At least it wasn’t when Linc Chafee was our governor. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s recentheadline-grabbing decisionto keep cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug was the result of a request from the Chafee administration in 2011.

In a July 19 letter to Governor Gina Raimondo, Chuck Rosenberg, the acting administrator of the DEA, wrote, “On November 30, 2011, your predecessors, The Honorable Lincoln D. Chafee and The Honorable Christine O. Gregoire, petitioned the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to initiate rulemaking proceedings under the rescheduling provisions of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA),” according to the federal register. “Specifically, your predecessors petitioned the DEA to have marijuana and “related items” removed from Schedule I of the CSA and rescheduled as medical cannabis in Schedule II.”

The DEA, it should be noted, disagreed, writing to Raimondo, “Based on the HHS evaluation and all other relevant data, the DEA has concluded that there is no substantial evidence that marijuana should be removed from Schedule I.” It cited three main reasons: “Marijuana has a high potential for abuse. Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Marijuana lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” An editorial in today’s New York Times proves false each of those three reasons. The DEA was also responding to a request from the governor of Washington and a citizen of New Mexico.

While governor of Rhode Island, Chafee signed legislation to decriminalize less than an ounce of marijuana. But he declined to push Rhode Island to become the first state on the East Coast to tax and regulate marijuana. As a presidential candidate earlier this year, there was some reason to believe Chafee was considering campaigning as a pro-pot candidate after he said his position on full federal legalization would “evolve during the campaign.”

Governor Raimondo has taken a similar tack on taxing and legalizing marijuana as Chafee did during his tenure. “I could see Rhode Island eventually getting there, but I’m not going to rush,” she said in March. On medical marijuana, she pushed legislation that added a per-plant tax to patients who don’t grow their own.

Rhode Island has the highest per capita marijuana users in the nation and a recent poll found 55 percent of Rhode Islanders favor legalization. A different poll found 53 percent of Americans favor legalization.

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Rhode Island Celebrates 10 Years of MMJ

AR-160729654 (1)More than just weed at Providence cannabis fest

The Providence Journal-Karen Lee Ziner-7/23/16

PROVIDENCE — The Medical Cannabis Festival on Saturday featured soundtracks from Bob Marley and the Grateful Dead as people perused the merchandise. Hand-blown, $250 art-glass pipes, wooden "pot pockets," funky jewelry and a display poster for "Train Wreck Strain" of marijuana.

But beyond the paraphernalia and free prizes lay serious concerns — and information — about accessible, affordable medical marijuana for people in need. People with such qualifying conditions as cancer; HIV/AIDS; multiple sclerosis; hepatitis C; epilepsy; and — newly legislated in Rhode Island — post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sponsored by the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC), Saturday's festival on Bell Street on the West Side marked the 10th anniversary of Rhode Island's medical marijuana (MMj) program.

"This year has been challenging," said RIPAC executive director Joanne Leppanen, referring to legislative battles at the State House. "It's always challenging. But this is about people's medical needs. Look at all the people who have been helped. It's time to reflect and see how far we've come."

At various booths, event-goers could learn growing advice from plant experts, meet with representatives of Rhode Island's three licensed compassion centers, learn how to connect with caregivers, and get information about Rhode Island's evolving medical marijuana law — enacted in 2006.

Derek Cloutier said marijuana helps alleviate the PTSD he suffers as a result of his tour of duty in Iraq. Cloutier's PTSD is easily triggered.

He sees a car in a breakdown lane and his mind leaps to hidden explosive devices. Certain smells, barking dogs can plunge him into a nightmare.

"Things that happened around certain traumatic events, whether it's sniper fire, machine guns, mortars ... If you're in a firefight, if something's happening around you and there are certain smells — it's going to be ingrained in your brain," Cloutier said.

Cannabis "takes away that 'crazy mind,'" and allows him to focus, and calm down. He has been able to come off all other medications, including anti-depressants, he said.

Magdalena Andreozzi, who is an MMj card holder, said she stopped in "to learn what's going on with medical marijuana and medicinal marijuana use in the state of Rhode Island. I'm here to educate myself and listen to other people about what's happening, and where we're headed."

But it wasn't all about public policy and legal issues. There were hot dogs on the grill, and chair massages on a blistering hot day. And buying opportunities.

Jonathan Foster's merchandise featured an array of colorful pipes, including glass lobster claw pipes from Maine and the "Mick Jagger" pipe — lips with a tongue sticking out.

And "PAX", a $279 vape pipe that comes in a white box reminiscent of Apple products.

Foster noted, "It's the IPhone of vaporizers."


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R.I. would raise revenue by ‘tagging’ medical marijuana plants

Rhode Island House of Representatives

Growing medical marijuana could help grow state revenue by an additional $8.4 million next year, under Governor Raimondo's budget plan.

The governor has proposed that every medical marijuana plant not grown at a commercial compassion center must have a state tag. Each tag would cost $150 for patients who grow their own plants or $350 for caregivers who are allowed to cultivate marijuana for up to five patients.

The requirement is meant to create more of a "level playing field" between caregivers and compassion centers, which grow marijuana on a large-scale basis and are already subjected to more rigorous regulations and taxes, according to Michael Raia, spokesman for the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

The tags, which will identify plants that are legal and those that are not, will also play a role in enforcing drug laws and preventing abuse of medical marijuana privileges.

"The goal of the reforms is to ensure that medical marijuana patients maintain access to treatment while minimizing access among those who illegally use and sell marijuana," according to a news release.

With each plant expected to produce about $17,000 worth of medical marijuana, Raia said the fee amounts to no more than 2 percent of revenue.


VIA Providence Journal

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11 States Most Likely to Legalize Marijuana Next

With a majority of Americans in favor of marijuana legalization, it seems to be only time before the herb is legal in every state. Currently only four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington) and D.C. have legalized recreational pot for adults—but according to financial blog 24/7 Wall St., 11 more states might not be far behind.

The blog's predictions are based on two criteria: states where medical marijuana is legal and states where possession of small amounts of weed is not punishable by jail.

Other considerations included the number of marijuana-related arrests per 100,000 residents, the estimated proportion of residents who used marijuana in the past year and public opinion polls.

According to USA Today, most of the states on the list also have a high number of marijuana users, with nine surpassing the nationwide rate.

See the list below:

1. Massachusetts

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana Related Arrests in 2012: 2,596
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 39
Minimum Penalty Classification : Civil Offense

2. Nevada

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $600
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 8,524
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 309
Minimum Penalty Classification: Misdemeanor

3. California

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 21,256
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 56
Minimum Penalty Classification: Infraction

4. New York

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 112,974
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 577
Minimum Penalty Classification: Not Classified

5. Vermont

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $200
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 926
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 148
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Violation

6. Minnesota

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $200
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 12,051
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 224
Minimum Penalty Classification: Misdemeanor

7. Connecticut

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $150
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 3,747
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 104
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Penalty

8. Maryland

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 22,042
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 375
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Offense

9. Rhode Island

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $150
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 2,320
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 221
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Violation

10. Maine

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $600
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 3,202
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 241
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Violation

11. Delaware

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $575
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 2,912
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 318
Minimum Penalty Classification: Misdemeanor


VIA High Times

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Highway billboard will urge R.I. lawmakers to consider marijuana as economic boost

The billboard will be at the corner of Orms and State streets.

By Tom Mooney

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Regulate Rhode Island will unveil a billboard in Providence Tuesday informing state officials — who are considering investing tax dollars in building a new baseball stadium in the city — of what the group says is another way to attract new businesses, good jobs, and young professionals to Rhode Island: regulating and taxing marijuana.

The ad campaign will be launched at 11 a.m. with a news conference in front of the billboard at 90 Orms St. (SE corner of Orms and State streets). Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat will be joined at the event by Paul DeFruscio, the CEO of Jennifer Rose Associates LLC, a company that specializes in packaging marijuana-infused products, and Marc Shepard, co-founder of New England Cannabis Conventions.

The “Field of Dreams”-themed ad features stadium lights shining on two young professionals standing among a small field of marijuana plants, and it reads: “If we build it, they will come… It’s time to establish a regulated marijuana market in Rhode Island.”



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Rhode Island Marijuana Legalization: State Lawmakers To Introduce Bill To Regulate And Tax Pot Like Alcohol

Rhode Island legalized medical marijuana in 2006. (Reuters)

Lawmakers in Rhode Island are expected to introduce a bill into the state legislature Thursday that would legalize marijuana for recreational use and create a legal retail market in the state for the sale and taxation of the leafy commodity. Under the proposed law, called the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, adults 21 years old and older would be able to grow one mature marijuana plant and possess up to one ounce of pot.

“It’s time to regulate and tax marijuana in Rhode Island and treat it similarly to how we treat alcohol,” state Sen. Joshua Miller, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services, said in an emailed statement. “Marijuana prohibition is an ineffective and wasteful policy, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer. The legislature is perfectly capable of creating a system that will work for Rhode Island."

The law would permit pot shops and growing facilities to apply for licenses with the Department of Business Regulation.

Similar bills were recently introduced in Georgia, Texas and Vermont. In February, Vermont lawmakers submitted legislation to allow the legal sale of retail pot, the first state to attempt legalization via the state legislature. Other states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use did so by voter-approved ballot measures.

Rhode Island legalized medical marijuana in 2006. The law allows certain patients to register and obtain marijuana use cards from the Rhode Island Department of Health. In 2013, Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed a bill that significantly reduced the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Rhode Island state Rep. Scott Slater, who has joined Miller in introducing the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, criticized the state’s approach to marijuana law enforcement so far, calling it a “failed” endeavor. “After decades of arresting citizens for marijuana and spending tens of millions of dollars enforcing punitive marijuana laws, it is clear that efforts to eliminate marijuana use have totally failed,” he wrote in an article published Thursday in GoLocal Prov. “Just like alcohol prohibition, marijuana prohibition has not eradicated marijuana from society. Instead, prohibition has created a vacuum filled by criminals who turn a profit off of the illicit marijuana industry."



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Rhode Island Bill To Regulate Marijuana Coming Soon

rhode island marijuana legalizationState Representative Edith Ajello (D – Providence) and state Senator Josh Miller (D -Cranston) are currently reaching out to their colleagues to ask them to sign on to their proposal to replace Rhode Island’s marijuana prohibition with a system that regulates marijuana for adults’ use. If you are a Rhode Island residentemail your state representative and senator today and ask them to sign on to this bill as a cosponsor!

The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act is similar to the laws that voters approved in Colorado and Washington in 2012. The proposal would allow individuals 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. It also directs the Department of Revenue to license and regulate marijuana producers and retail marijuana stores.

This sensible approach to marijuana would create new industries with new jobs and raise needed revenue for the state. It would also allow law enforcement focus on more serious crimes.


Via The Weed Blog

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Warwick consulting firm gets initial OK to evaluate potential R.I. medical marijuana patients

Jessica Cotton is the owner of B&B Consulting, first firm in Rhode Island that will exclusively make recommendations for medical marijuana licenses

PROVIDENCE — A Warwick consulting firm has received initial approval from the Health Department to become the first business in Rhode Island to provide assistance to patients seeking to join the state’s growing medical marijuana program.

B&B Consulting LLC, at 300 Toll Gate Rd., got the OK last week in a report from the Committee of the Health Services Council to establish an organized ambulatory care facility that will focus on medical marijuana.

Dr. Michael Fine, director of the Health Department, accepted the committee’s recommendation and gave initial approval to the application.

Jessica Cotton, the firm’s sole owner and administrator, said she thinks that B&B Consulting is the first medical marijuana consulting firm in the nation to gain approval from a state health department. She said that two doctors will make recommendations for patients to gain entry into the medical marijuana program.

“This is the only thing we are doing is medical marijuana evaluations,” Cotton said. “We are all ready. We are all set up.”

She hopes to get final Health Department approval by month’s end.

JoAnne Leppanen, executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, welcomed B&B Consulting. She said too many patients are turned down by doctors at the Providence Veterans Administration Medical Center and at community health centers. She said the doctors cannot recommend medical marijuana because the hospitals and centers are funded with federal dollars.

Under federal law, marijuana remains an illegal drug that is in the same category as heroin, LSD and Ecstasy.

She also said that both doctors have a deep knowledge about the drug’s benefits in dealing with certain medical problems. She supported the B&B application to the Health Department.

“Patients would prefer to go to a doctor who knows something about cannabis,” she said.

The two physicians are Dr. Timothy Spurrell and Dr. Thomas Robert Rocco Jr., who will serve as medical director at B&B Consulting. He is licensed in Rhode Island and Wisconsin and board-certified in general surgery.

According to the National Practitioner Data Bank Self Query that is included in the Health Department report, a $150,000 settlement was reached a year ago involving patient allegations that Rocco had performed “a negligent lymph node biopsy which resulted in suprascapular nerve damage and ongoing pain and suffering.” In November 2011, the report states that Rocco’s clinical privileges were reduced at Newport Hospital “as a result of a quality care investigation.”

Spurrell is a licensed physician in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Texas and Maryland and is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology.

The doctors, under state law, are required to establish and maintain medical records with qualifying patients for the medical marijuana program. They also must diagnose or confirm the diagnosis that qualifies them for marijuana use.

The state allows marijuana to be used to be used by certified patients for relief from chronic pain, cancer, HIV, AIDS, severe nausea and other ailments.

Once the recommendation is made, the patient goes to the Health Department where a final determination is made on whether the patient can be certified to join the medical marijuana program.

Cotton said that the doctors, who will work two days a week, have evaluated and recommended about 900 people for the medical marijuana program in the past 1½ years. She said that she and her husband, Bill, a patient in the program who suffers from multiple sclerosis, recruited the doctors for the firm.

B&B Consulting’s application to the Health Department also mentions that the firm will be seeking referrals from the Rhode Island Free Clinic and community health centers.

Andrea Bagnall-Degos, spokeswoman for the Health Department, said that 546 doctors in Rhode Island had made recommendations for patients to join the medical marijuana program. She also said that 89 doctors from Massachusetts and Connecticut have done the same for Rhode Island patients.

B&B projects evaluating 647 people the first year; 1,555 in year two; and 1,600 in year three. There will be a $200 charge for the initial medical visit, $140 for consultant services and $50 for a follow-up visit. The services are not covered by Medicare, Medicaid or other health care insurance plans.

Rhode Island is one of 20 states, and the District of Columbia, with a medical marijuana program. The state’s first two dispensaries opened last spring. A third is expected to open early next year in Warwick.

State law permits only three dispensaries, otherwise known as compassion centers. Today, there are more than 6,700 medical marijuana patients in Rhode Island, a jump of nearly 25 percent from last spring.



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Summit medical marijuana facility submits new application for dispensary in Warwick


Touring the proposed Summit Medical Compassion Center at 380 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, are, from left, Camille Vella-Wilkinson, Ward 3 councilwoman; Realtor Donald Morash Jr.; Summit security team members Napolean “Nappy” Brito and Robert A. McQueeney; and Armand C. Spaziano, Summit’s president and board chairman.


WARWICK — It’s been a big year for medical marijuana in Rhode Island.

The first two dispensaries, also known as compassion centers, opened last spring in Providence and Portsmouth and began selling high-grade marijuana to registered patients suffering from ailments such as HIV-AIDS, glaucoma, chronic pain, stress and eating disorders.

They have more than twice as many customers as they were hoping to land after their first year of business.

At the same time, the number of patients in the program has jumped nearly 25 percent in the past seven months, to slightly fewer than 7,000 patients.

Now, the third and final dispensary, Summit Medical Compassion Center Inc., plans to open a large-scale operation in Warwick that will feature a store and cultivation center in an industrial area off Route 95.

Summit has submitted an application to the state Department of Health with more than 300 pages of documents that provide details about the dispensary’s location, business plan, hiring and projections for the next three years. It isn’t Summit’s first proposal.

In 2011, Governor Chafee refused to issue registration certificates to Slater, Greenleaf and Summit for more than a year. Slater and Greenleaf were not fazed by the restrictions, and they pressed ahead with their dispensaries.

Summit had submitted an ambitious proposal to be the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the state. That plan was so big that Chafee worried that Summit could be the subject of a raid by federal authorities. At his urging, the General Assembly passed legislation that limited the number of plants a dispensary could grow to 99 mature plants and 51 seedlings. They also can have a maximum of 1,500 ounces of marijuana ready for sale.

Summit seemed to hesitate, and its plans to open a dispensary and cultivation center on Post Road and Strawberry Field Road fell through.

But two months ago, Summit submitted a new application for a registration certificate. Its projections are more modest than its initial proposal. The application projects that the operation will have 1,105 patients after the first year and 1,610 by the end of year two. During that same time period, revenues from marijuana sales are expected to jump from $3.1 million nearly $4.1 million.

Summit’s staff also is expected to increase from 19 to 39 employees.

Camille Vella-Wilkinson, a Warwick city councilor who represents Ward 3, home of the Summit marijuana operation, is a big supporter of the new business. She said that she attended several state Health Department hearings and learned that medical marijuana was a safer alternative than prescription drugs. She also said that marijuana was cheaper than having patients “pilling up.”

She also said that Summit will bring good-paying jobs, many that pay more than $50,000 a year, to the city.

“I’m absolutely in favor of this,” Vella-Wilkinson said.

The center will lease two buildings with plenty of space. The cultivation center, which will be used to grow marijuana, is at 66 Illinois Ave. and covers 9,660 square feet, while the compassion center, or retail store where the cannabis will be sold, is at 380 Jefferson Blvd., Unit E-2, which has 7,285 square feet of space.

The cavernous buildings with high ceilings are about 500 yards apart, on opposite sides of Jefferson Boulevard.

The sole financier of Summit is Cuttino Mobley, the former University of Rhode Island and NBA basketball star, who made tens of millions of dollars during his 11-year career as an NBA player.

Mobley is providing the dispensary with a $3.5-million line of credit with an annual interest rate of 6 percent that will not commence until the second year of Summit’s operation. He also will kick in $500,000 that will not be repaid.

According to Summit’s proposal, $2.8 million of the credit line will be used to build out the compassion and cultivation centers.

In terms of square footage and projections, Summit, with 16,945 square feet for its compassion and cultivation centers, will be the largest of the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries. Under state law, only three dispensaries are permitted in Rhode Island.

Armand C. Spaziano, Summit’s president and chairman of its board of directors, said “it’s not the goal to be the biggest. The goal is to be efficient and safe.”

The security team includes Napolean “Nappy” Brito, a retired Providence police officer who ran the department’s Bureau of Criminal Identification; and Robert A. McQueeney, a retired state police captain, who serves on Summit’s board of directors.

Summit plans to overhaul the buildings that will house the compassion and cultivation centers this winter and open for business a few months after the new year. Andrea Bagnall-Degos, spokeswoman for the Health Department, said that a public comment session during which residents can express concerns about the business ends on Dec. 13.

Based on those comments, the department can recommend changes and schedule an on-site inspection. The operating license will be issued after the state police inspect the buildings to make sure a proper security system is in place.

Right now, the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center, at 1 Corliss St., in Providence, and Greenleaf Compassionate Care, at 1637 West Main Rd., in Portsmouth, are open for business.

Slater’s retail store and cultivation center are housed in the same building, which is 13,750 square feet. Greenleaf grows and sells marijuana in a modest 2,800-square-foot post-and-beam building that serves patients on Aquidneck Island.

Slater was the first to open in mid-April; Greenleaf launched its business in early June.

So far, sales have been booming at each dispensary. At the outset, Slater officials were hoping to have 550 registered patients within the first six months and 1,000 patients by May 31, 2014. Greenleaf was optimistic that it could quickly attract 200 patients.

Figures from the Health Department show Slater now has 2,277 patients and Greenleaf has reached 546 patients, far surpassing the projections.

Chris Reilly, Slater’s spokesman, said the numbers reflect the demand that patients have for high-grade medicinal marijuana.

“Our staff is working hard every day to help registered patients get high-quality medicine in a safe environment,” he said. “It’s an enormous responsibility to care for people suffering from serious and often terminal illnesses. We are proud to play a small part in helping improve the lives of these folks.”

Added Seth Bock, co-owner of Greenleaf: “Patients seem satisfied with the spectrum of unique varieties we offer, as well as the excellent quality and relative affordability of the medicine and products we sell.”

Bock also said that Greenleaf has launched a “collaborative epidemiological study” with Miriam Hospital in Providence to determine which varieties of the marijuana plant best treat certain ailments.


The advent of the two dispensaries has resulted in a surge of patients in the state medical marijuana program. Today, there are 6,720 patients in the program, a 24.8-percent jump from the 5,386 who were registered just seven months ago. At the same time, the number of registered caregivers, who grow marijuana and provide the drug to as many as five patients, has declined from 3,589 to 3,513.

JoAnne Leppanen, executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, said the two compassion centers have been well-received and she’s pleased to see that Greenleaf has dropped its prices of marijuana to less than $250. She said many patients are on fixed incomes and can’t afford to pay $300 to $400 a month for an ounce.

“Patients have been very happy with the compassion centers,” she said. “But the prices can be challenging.”

Slater offers edible marijuana products such as cookies, brownies and flavored lozenges. Greenleaf hopes to have a marijuana baking kitchen up and running before year’s end, and Summit has similar plans. Proponents of medical marijuana say it’s more effective and safer to ingest the medicine than to smoke it.

Greenleaf and Summit also want to start delivery service for patients who are too ill to travel to the dispensaries. All three offer other services such as pain management, educational material, nutrition, yoga and Reiki.

Slater does not make deliveries.

Rhode Island is one of 20 states and the District of Columbia that allow the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana. All six New England states have passed laws that permit registered patients to use the drug to cope with a variety of ailments, but so far, only Rhode Island (2); Vermont (4); and Maine (8) have opened dispensaries for patients to buy marijuana.

Massachusetts is expected to have as many as 35 marijuana centers next year, while Connecticut officials predict that three to five may open in 2014.

Maine has more than 16,000 patients in its medical marijuana program, far more than the other five New England states, and Rhode Island is second with more than 6,700 patients.

Mobley, the former NBA star, has made big waves in both states where he starred on the basketball court before turning pro. He attended Maine Central Institute, a prep school basketball powerhouse, before he enrolled at URI.

Aside from providing $4 million to Summit, Mobley has financed four of the dispensaries in Maine with a $1.6-million line of credit over eight years. The loan was made with an annual interest rate of 8.5 percent.

Could the legalization of marijuana in Rhode Island be far behind?

In 2012, voters approved the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington. And, on Nov. 5, voters in Portland, Maine, overwhelmingly approved legalizing marijuana for residents 21 and older, making the city the first on the East Coast to OK recreational cannabis.

Rep. Edith H. Ajello, D-Providence, who has introduced legalization legislation the past two years, plans to try again in 2014. She said that prohibition isn’t working and permitting marijuana for those 21 and older would result in greater regulation.

“I think it gains traction every year,” she said. “I’m sure that we will move closer, but it’s an election year and it does tend to make my colleagues more hesitant.”



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medical, check……decrim, CHECK!

House, Senate Pass Marijuana Decriminalization Bills

The bills will now be passed to the opposing chamber for a vote. If enacted, Rhode Island would become the 15th state to decriminalize marijuana.

The full Senate and House approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Warwick) and Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) to eliminate the criminal charge for carrying one ounce or less of marijuana.

Instead, the new law, if approved, would impose a civil penalty of a $150 fine, plus forfeiture of the drug. A third offense within 18 months of the previous offense would be treated as a misdemeanor.

The legislation passed the House in a 50 to 24 vote and passed the Senate in a 28 to 6 vote. Each bill must now travel across the rotunda to pass the opposite chamber in order to become law.

Under the provisions of the Senate and House bills (2012-S 2253Aaa, 2012-H 7092Aaa), offenders who are minors would also have to complete an approved drug awareness program and community service. The Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal would have jurisdiction over these cases.

Currently, possession of even very small amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor under state law and is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $500.

This legislation could save the state millions of dollars each year, clean the judicial dockets for more serious issues and take away the criminal stigma from an otherwise youthful indiscretion, Rep. Edwards said.

“I introduced this bill for three reasons,” Edwards said. “Firstly, I don’t think people should have a charge on their record that stays there forever because of a bad decision made during their teen years. Secondly, the state is going to save a little money from this because we won’t be incarcerating as many people.

"But most importantly, I think this is the right thing to do. Fourteen other states have done this, and Rhode Island and Vermont are the only exceptions in New England right now. This legislation brings equity to the state of Rhode Island."

Senator Miller said the Special Senate Commission to Study the Prohibition of Marijuana hearings that took place in 2010 really made a difference in how some of his colleagues and members of the public viewed the prospect of marijuana decriminalization.

“I think the commission lured out some of the real benefits that can come from this legislation,” said Senator Miller, who served as chairman of the commission. “Not only will it have economic benefits tied to law enforcement, judiciary and incarceration costs, but it will be especially beneficial for young people. During the commission hearings, it was clear that education and treatment was the favored way of dealing with minors’ use of pot.

"No one wants to see opportunities in higher education closed off to someone because of criminal charges related to marijuana.”

The senator also pointed out that teens who can afford a good defense in court tend to fare better than those who can’t.

If enacted, Rhode Island would become the 15th state to decriminalize marijuana.

In 2008, Massachusetts voters carried passage of a similar law with 65 percent of the vote. Connecticut’s legislature established a decriminalization law last year.

The Rhode Island legislation would go into effect on April 1, 2013.

Co-sponsors of the Senate version of the bill include Senators Paul V. Jabour (D-Dist. 5,Providence), Rhoda E. Perry (D-Dist. 3, Providence), Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6,Providence) and Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket).

Reps. Frank G. Ferri (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), Brian C. Newberry (R-Dist. 48, North Smithfield, Burrillville), Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence) and Peter G. Palumbo (D-Dist. 16, Cranston) co-sponsored the House bill.

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